I first heard about Bathala Bike Park a couple of years ago from Glorious Ride Bikeshop. I saw several pictures on their Facebook page showing a pump track along with ramps, jumps, bridges and a lot of technical stuff that I used to see only on videos about that far away mecca of mountain biking called The North Shore.
However, I never really took note of it because I wasn’t really interested in tricks and techniques. I considered myself more of a traveler than a freeride enthusiast. My priority was to explore brave new worlds, to seek new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no mountain biker has gone before. Star Trekkie stuff. Riding in style was not even on the horizon.
But a few weeks ago, I watched a short film that made me take another look at a different kind of riding. And thus last weekend, I found myself lugging a 4X bike into Bathala Bike Park with a full face helmet in tow.
It’s Semenuk’s fault
Sometimes a simple thing like seeing a film can inspire you to do crazy things. This was the case with me after seeing one of the most beautiful mountain bike films ever made: Brandon Semenuk’s One Shot teaser trailer for UnReal. If you haven’t seen it yet… You’re Doomed! Watch it now, and you may just save your soul from eternal damnation.
This short film is a gem among gems. While most mountain bike films overemphasize technical mastery over the simple pleasure of riding, Semenuk’s 4 minute clip did the opposite. This transcendent masterpiece had all the requisite flips and jumps you’d expect from a mountain biking movie, but it was also so much more.
Every single movement was flawless. But the rider in the film wasn’t trying to impress– he was just enjoying the ride. You could also feel how his ride spoke of soul and joy and the sublime. The movie was 241 seconds of pure poetry in motion.
I was so taken with the film that it made me want to experience that same kind of fusion of bike virtuosity and good riding vibes. So I decided to see if I had it in me. Of course, I knew that I had a better chance of winning the 100 million peso UltraMegaSuperLotto, or scoring a date with Solenn Heussaff than becoming half as good as Semenuk. Pero, subok lang naman.
And that is how I found myself driving all the way to Bathala Bike Park to see if I could level up my skills there and gauge how far I had gone with my pumping, my pathetic attempts at manuals and bunnyhops.
From the photos I saw at Glorious Ride’s FB page, it seemed like this bike park was going to be rad. Just look at those pics!
The sad reality however is that Bathala has fallen into disrepair. The dirtjump tracks have been eroded. The wooden bridges are no more, and the tech trail is overgrown with weeds and heaped with fallen branches.
The paved pump track was all that’s left of its former glory. I checked the Bathala Bike Park FB Page, and it hasn’t been updated since 2012.Check out the Youtube videos below, which were sent to me by a reader, to see just how awesome this place was just a few years ago.
I did get to practice some pumping and berming. But even with a small 4X bike, the pump track seemed too much for me. It was fun, but a BMX would have been better on those rollers. Or maybe I really just suck at pumping.
Would I recommend this park to bikers? That depends.
If you plan on going for a swim and picnic with your family or barkada, Momarco resort would be sulit. The Php 250 per head entrance fee gains you access to a really nice big swimming pool, a cabana, and free use of the pump track.
But if all you plan to do is try the pump track, the Php 250 damage may be too much. So I wouldn’t recommend it. You could do jumps in Heroes Trail for just Php 50, while the excellent Base Kamp by Sandugo trail in Mt. Maarat is free to use.
I hope the people who designed and built Bathala Bike Park will go back to the park and restore it to its former radness for the sake of the Pinoy biking community.